GARY BALLANCE insists that he wants to stay at Yorkshire for the rest of his career after signing a two-year contract extension.
The Yorkshire captain has put pen to paper on a new deal that will keep him at the club until at least the end of the 2019 season.
Ballance is the latest to recommit himself to the club after pace bowlers Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks signed one-year extensions to the end of the 2018 campaign.
The left-hander remains grateful to the club for giving him a chance as a teenager after he moved to England from his native Zimbabwe.
“I’m really appreciative of Yorkshire for giving me an opportunity earlier in my career, the opportunity to move up to Leeds and play there,” said Ballance.
“I’ve loved every minute of it, I’ve worked with some great coaches and very talented players, and I’d love to stay there for the rest of my career.
“I’ve been at Yorkshire for such a long time now, and it’s the only place I want to be.
“It’s great to get an extension signed before the season starts, and now I can just focus on playing cricket, the captaincy and scoring runs.”
Ballance, 27, was speaking from Dubai, where Yorkshire are undertaking a two-week pre-season tour. He is targeting some strong contributions in the coming days not only from established players, but also those striving to get into the first team. “The young guys have trained really hard these past two months,” he said. “If they get an opportunity, hopefully they can take it with both hands.
“Individually, everyone needs to make sure that when we get back home, they’re ready to play – not just the first XI, the whole squad. Hopefully, over the next 12 days, everyone can find some form, get some wickets, get some runs and be ready for the start of the season.”
Commenting on Ballance’s new deal, first-team coach Andrew Gale said: “He’s one of the best batsmen in the country, and his record backs that up.
“He’s done it at international level too for England, so we want to keep him at the club as long as we can.”